Job: Content Specialist & Copywriter, GoSpotCheck
Location: Denver, Colorado
Chrissy and I were connected through a Furman professor that I have kept up with since school. After moving across the country to work in the booming tech startup world in Denver, Chrissy was blindsided in one of her first careers and was out of work for several months after her entire team was laid off. In this incredibly open interview, she shares her struggles in those months, why she didn't settle for the first job that popped up, and how researching your job extensively before saying "yes" is always the way to go.
Give us a brief background on yourself.
I graduated with my English degree after growing up as a writer, despite my business-savvy family encouraging me to pursue something else. They pushed for me to be a business or finance major, and it just never felt right to me at all. Even going to a small liberal arts college was kind of like breaking a mold. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated but knew I wanted to be in a creative role that allowed me to write. After graduating, I moved to Denver and lived in my brother’s basement until I found a job at Room 214 in Boulder, where I started as an Account Manager. I moved around for a few years after that to find that really what I wanted to do was get into the world of tech. Since July, I am now at GoSpotCheck, which is a startup that designs enterprise management software for both large and small companies. Our clients range anywhere from Pepsi and Coke to Dairy Queen, Under Armour, and Panera. I'm a Content Specialist and Copywriter, so I create and manage all of our marketing material, including digital and print content that becomes the voice of the company and earns new business. It has been amazing so far and I really love it.
What does your day-to-day look like?
It depends on the day. In the tech startup world, your role isn't at all limited to your current skills or your past experiences. We wear a lot of hats and touch every part of the business. Regardless of what I am doing, my job is to make sure that our product looks its best and drives true business value for our customers, current and prospective. We're a rapidly growing startup, so it's important to us that we exceed expectations. That was one of the reasons why I left the agency side, so I could feel 100% committed and dedicated to one great product and purpose.
What has been a hardship since joining the workforce and how did you grow from it?
I think the biggest challenge was earlier this year when I joined another tech startup called Rachio, which seemed like they were really growing and thriving at the time that I was hired. I was there for three months and our CMO ended up resigning and they laid off pretty much the entire marketing team, including me. Here I was, still pretty early on in my career, and it was extremely hard because I had never unwillingly left a job, or felt like I hadn’t given it my all. Since I was only there for such a short time, I was still in the honeymoon phase of having a new job and then I ended up being completely blindsided. So before I found GoSpotCheck, those three months were the most challenging I've ever experienced after graduating.
Can you talk more about that time period?
It was crushing for me. In those three months, I felt like I was backtracking after working so hard to get a job and to keep it. I found out how important it was to keep a routine during the time period in between jobs, so I created a schedule in my day to keep me in check and to keep me from going crazy. Of course, I sat around and searched for new positions, but I think having that structure was so important for me. I grew comfortable with networking and grabbing coffee with people who could help me find the next step, and I also learned to not apply to every single job that could potentially be a fit; instead, I only applied to positions that really spoke to me as a professional. I think a lot of people make that mistake because they are so desperate for a job, they end up taking one that they end up regretting.
What made you decide GoSpotCheck was the right fit?
I did a ton of research on the job before I applied for it. I talked to people in the startup world about who the company was and if it would be worthwhile for me to join. I also made sure I had an understanding of what exactly the product does and why people need it. It sounds simple, but in tech, that becomes a bit more complicated, which helped me understand how sustainable the business can be.
Did networking play a role in getting your job?
Absolutely. I was careful not to burn any bridges. The CEO of my old company was the one who laid me off, so he saw me at my worst, probably one of the most humiliating moments in my career. After the layoff, he reached out almost every week with a new opportunity and wrote letters of recommendation to each job I applied for. At first, it was tempting to not accept his help after feeling like I’d been slighted at his company, but he was an incredible resource to me. We stayed connected and he really was determined to land me a job. He ended up connecting me with the people at GoSpotCheck after putting in a good word for me.
Where do you see yourself going next?
I know I want to be in a leadership role. Right now I'm just trying to absorb everything I can in this role. Considering it is such a successful and thriving startup in downtown Denver, I have had an incredible experience so far and have been exposed to different leaders throughout the company because of its size.
Tell us about what it’s like being a young professional in Denver.
It's great! It's kind of overflowing with young people right now. I didn’t realize that when I moved out here in 2015, but I think the tech world is part of the reason why so many people are drawn to it. I also think a lot of young people are here because they really crave the outdoor part of Denver. My fiancé used to work in D.C. and we always talk about how different millennials in D.C. and Denver are. D.C. millennials are so competitive professionally, but millennials in Denver are more competitive when it comes to going outdoors. When I would visit my fiancé, people would immediately ask me what I did for a living, but everyone here just asks where I go hiking or biking. It’s awesome! The culture here is very easy-going and natural, so people love that.
What would you tell somebody looking to join the startup world?
Oh gosh! I don't want to make it sound scary, but I think the one thing that I regret not doing, particularly with Rachio, is looking into the financial side of it and understanding if a startup will actually be profitable and what stage they're currently in. Coming in, I'd never really understood what that looked like and it became an issue. I wish I had known that coming into that year because I may have been able to dodge a bullet, but it’s all a learning process. Understanding that young startups do restructure often is also important, so joining one that is very young can be difficult. Don't be shy in asking about that kind of stuff in interviews. If you do get an offer to work for a startup, it could be important to ask when their last funding round or last restructure was. I’d also ask how transparent the company is with sharing financial performance, progress, and goals with employees.
What do you do outside of the office?
I bake! I have a baking blog and I try to bake as much as I can. Since I love writing, a blog is the perfect creative outlet for me. If I’m ever a little overstressed or feeling under the weather and need to put my energy into something else, I just bake. It’s called Sliced & Shared (link below). I always add the site to my resumé and I have been told it is one of the reasons I was hired. They were looking for writing samples, so after I sent my professional work, I included my blog as well. They loved it and felt like my writing style and personality really showed, so always utilize your skills and share!
The YoPro Know's Takeaways:
- What to do when your position is eliminated
- Don't settle when applying to jobs
- Research the company you're applying to...especially if it's a startup
- Look into the financials of your startup before working there
- Stay connected with contacts from previous companies, even if you don't want to
- Never hesitate to share your passion projects in resumes